Volunteer pilots take to skies for Operation Good Cheer with gifts for kids in need across Michigan

Volunteer pilot Phillip Bozek is less than 24 hours away from firing up his aircraft to help deliver thousands of gifts to foster kids all over Michigan.

"We are kind of like Santa," said Phillip Bozek. "Our sleighs are a little bit different, but we put on the hat and do what we can to help everybody."

"I have flown all over the world I have done some very cool things but this is by far my favorite flight of the year."

Operation Good Cheer took to the skies 18 years ago when Ford engineer Constantine Kortidis or 'Taki' as he was known, decided to spend the money designated to throw a company Christmas party instead, on foster kids with Child Family Services of Michigan.

The organization needed help delivering the presents, so Taki loaded up his Cessna and soon motivated others from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association to do the same.

Operation Good Cheer now makes the holidays brighter for more than 7,000 foster children all over our state.

"This is the least I can do to help people," he said. "I will do this every day."

Bozek, who has been volunteering for eight years, will meet his fellow Santa helpers at Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac on Saturday, where they will load up and take to the skies.

"Roughly 250 volunteers help sort, organize, wrap all these gifts, they are loaded up on the aircraft, and then they are flown out to different donor groups that distribute to different kids for Christmas," Bozek said.

The real Santa will pick up those presents from 30 different airports from all over the state to make sure kids wake up with smiles on Christmas morning.

"If we can encourage or we can help foster the next generation because if we can leave it a little better, it makes all the difference," he said.

If you want to donate to the cause next year, reach out to Child Family Services.